I am a fairly new rider (based on my low-mileage). But something I have learned thus far is when it comes to tack is that function vs. form. Function wins hands down, every single time. Since my meager start in this thing I have tried: Abetta, Crestridge, Wintecs, another brand that eludes me... and Specialized. Two of these brands worked for me, and all of these worked out okay for my horse. I do not hold to the concept that I need to ride 300 endurance miles a year to make this statement as I easily tool along the trail based on my own record keeping at around 1000 miles a year. So being a relative newbie at endurance does not make one a total idiot on choosing a saddle, a pad, a bridle, set of reins, or (fill in the blank). It only becomes idiotic when one has not used the said item to offer a critique on it. Thus I can offer this information based on my own experience: The Specialized Saddle was the most uncomfortable saddle I've ever used, and the Wintec AP was a close second. Does that mean you should not try these saddles? ABSOLUTELY NOT. As this is only my experience on one particular horse. What I would personally recommend a new rider to do is choose function vs. form (how well it works vs. how pretty it looks). That isn't to say that you should not enjoy your zebra stripes, flames, bright orange, whatever; isn't that half the fun in this thing? Function first, then form as you happen to prefer it.
Function: Your equipment should fit your horse, and it should work for you. No rubs, no soreness, no chafing, blistering, heat bumps. There you have it! If I ride 20 miles a week, or 50 on a weekend that is not going to change. What should not be done is to offer a critique on a product you've not even used. That is irresponsible and fraudulent. The fact is that the saddle that has proven to work well for you, may turn out to be a nightmare for me.
Form: How much you enjoy looking at and coordinating your tack is up to you. Some of us get to ride if we are lucky 75-100 miles a year in competition. We may as well enjoy ourselves with our tack! I don't believe my hunter orange boots, reins, and reflective headstall will ever affect anyone else's (or mine for that matter) ride times ☺
My orange Renegade Vipers could only be better with sparkles *wink*